You Snooze, You Lose (and Someone Buys Your Street)

Bay Area couple buys private San Francisco street at a city auction -- unbeknownst to residents.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Chronicle

Thanks to a little-noticed auction sale -- and a comedically overlooked unpaid tax bill -- a Bay Area couple are now the proud owners of one of the most exclusive streets in San Francisco. And now the street's super-rich residents might actually have to pay to park on their own private street.

Tina Lam and Michael Cheng won Presidio Terrace for just over $90,000 at a city-run auction. The block-long oval private street, home to 35 multi-million-dollar mansions, was up for sale after the Presidio Homeowners Association failed to pay a $14-a-year property tax for thirty years. The homeowners apparently had no idea, and failed to pay because the tax bills had been going to an accountant's outdated address.

Welcome to Presidio Terrace

So two years ago, over a matter of $994 in unpaid fees and interest, the city put the property up for sale in an online auction -- unbeknownst to the street's residents. Cheng and Lam snatched up the property for $90,100, sight unseen, and are now looking for ways to cash in on their investment, which includes the property's streets and sidewalks. The homeowners, of course, are not very happy about it.

There are layers upon layers of commentary about this situation, and the general ridiculousness of San Francisco real estate. But my favorite part is what Cheng and Lam, who are Chinese American, discovered about the historical significance of their property purchase.

"There's a bit of irony in the couple's purchase," the San Francisco Chronicle points out. "Until a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning the enforcement of racial covenants, homes in Presidio Terrace could be purchased only by whites."

More here: Rich SF residents get a shock: Someone bought their street

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